NewsThis Week in Education Politics  

This Week in Education Politics: Summer Food for Students, Merging the Education and Labor Departments, the GI Bill & More

By Carolyn Phenicie | July 14, 2018

THIS WEEK IN EDUCATION POLITICS publishes most Saturdays. (See previous editions here.) You can get the preview delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for The 74 Newsletter; for rolling updates on federal education policy, follow Carolyn Phenicie on Twitter @cphenicie.

INBOX: TAKING STOCK — The clock is ticking for Congress to pass any major legislation before it departs for its August recess and the remaining months of 2018 are consumed by the midterm campaigns.

The one must-do is appropriations. Current government funding runs out Sept. 30. Congressional leaders have moved forward on several less controversial funding bills, but a continuing resolution for the Education Department is likely.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees each passed $71 billion funding bills for the Education Department, but the timeline is likely too tight to pass the full bills out of each chamber and reconcile differences between the House and Senate. The bill for the Education Department also funds the Labor and Health and Human Services departments. The measure was a lightning rod for partisan controversy even before HHS, which cares for immigrant children separated from their parents at the border, became embroiled in that crisis.

Both chambers have failed to make any substantive progress on immigration issues, be it a resolution solving the uncertain status of DACA recipients or changes to how the government deals with unaccompanied minors or children separated from their parents at the border.

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The only other education bill close to final passage is the rewrite of the Perkins Act governing federal grants for career and technical education.

The House is scheduled to be in session this week and next, and then on recess until after Labor Day. The Senate is slated to stay in D.C. a bit longer in August, with a focus on nominations, particularly that of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Senators are voting Monday evening on the nomination of Scott Stump to assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education. Besides Stump, Education Department nominees awaiting Senate approval are Jim Blew to be assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development, and Mark Schultz to be commissioner of the Rehabilitative Services Administration. No one has been nominated to fill three other Senate-confirmed offices in the Education Department.

TUESDAY: SUMMER FOOD PROGRAM — A House Education and the Workforce subcommittee holds a hearing on the summer food program, an offshoot of the school lunch program, which provides meals for low-income students when school is not in session. They can be run through schools, camps, local government agencies, or nonprofit groups.

WEDNESDAY: GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing on the Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize the federal government, including combining the Education and Labor departments.

WEDNESDAY: GI BILL — A House Veterans Affairs subcommittee holds a hearing on the Forever GI Bill. Passed in March 2017, the bill eliminates deadlines for veterans to use higher education benefits, returns benefits to veterans whose schools closed, and expands awards for Purple Heart recipients. Several of the changes go into effect Aug. 1; the subcommittee will look at whether the Veterans Affairs department is ready for that deadline.

THURSDAY: EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY — The Brookings Institution holds a panel event to promote newly released papers on the use of evidence-based policymaking and discuss its use in the Trump administration. One of the papers highlights the Institute of Education Sciences as a model for other research offices.

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